Atlas F1 News Service, a Reuters report

Rival Series Would Hurt Formula One, Says Kirch

Tuesday March 20th, 2001

Car manufacturers would damage the world of motor racing if they created a rival championship to Formula One, German media group Kirch said on Tuesday.

Kirch deputy chief Dieter Hahn said that the group, which together with media firm EM.TV AG owns 75 percent of Formula One broadcast rights firm SLEC, wanted to work with carmakers and had no intention of shifting racing broadcasts to pay television.

Car manufacturers threatened recently to set up their own motor racing system if Kirch switched broadcasts to pay TV.

Hahn told German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung that Kirch wanted to work with Formula One founder Bernie Ecclestone and could imagine many forms of cooperation, including carmakers buying stakes in SLEC. Ecclestone holds 25 percent of SLEC.

"I cannot detect that Ecclestone is...trying to keep us out. We've known each other for a long time and work together very closely.

"For the sake of stability Ecclestone would like the manufacturers to be in the company as shareholders. If they want to, we are open to it."

Asked to comment on the possibility of a new championship, Hahn said: "There are existing contracts until 2007. And it cannot be in the manufacturers' interest to create a competing series which damages the current product and will never be as good.

"The current product can remain as good as it has been if everyone pulls in the same direction."

Hahn said Kirch and EM.TV would not diminish the "integrity and exclusivity of this great sporting event".

"Manufacturers want to sell cars worldwide and use the Formula One platform for that. We want to earn money with the media event marketing. Those things fit together."

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